, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 1157-1165
Date: 22 Apr 2012

Getting Out of Rumination: Comparison of Three Brief Interventions in a Sample of Youth

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Rumination, passively and repetitively dwelling on and questioning negative feelings in response to distress, is a risk factor for the development of psychopathology, especially depression. The ruminative process is difficult to stop once it has begun. The present studies focused on strategies that may help youth disengage from ruminative states. In Study 1, we validated a technique for inducing distress and measuring state rumination. Twenty-six participants (mean age = 12.21; 62 % girls) underwent a negative mood induction followed by either a rumination or distraction induction. In Study 2, we examined the utility of three different brief interventions for stopping the ruminative process. One hundred-two youth (mean age = 11.51; 64 % girls) underwent a negative mood induction followed by a rumination induction. Following this, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions designed to help them out of the ruminative state (distraction, problem-solving, or mindfulness). In Study 1, participants in the rumination condition reported significantly higher levels of state rumination compared to those in the distraction condition. In Study 2, both distraction and mindfulness helped reduced state rumination compared to problem-solving. Taken together, these data suggest that even a brief period of distraction or mindfulness is helpful in getting youth out of a ruminative state. Clinical implications might include the potential use of mobile device applications to help alleviate rumination.

Funding was provided by National Institute of Mental Health grant R01-MH061285 to SDP; LMH was supported by T32-MH018931-21.
The authors thank Brian Leitzke for help with data collection. We also thank Elvira Zobel, Barb Roeber, Natalie Walker, Maureen Kelly, Audrey Mohni, Lei Kheng Goa, and Abby Studinger for their assistance with the study.